Category: SmartGo

Go Congress 2014 in New York City

At the Go Congress, I played and recorded my tournament game in the morning, got it analyzed after lunch, then entered the analysis and comments, and finally tweeted the result. Of course, all this using SmartGo apps on iPad and Mac: a great opportunity to find bugs and identify rough edges. Here are the games:

I’m happy with the final score of four wins and two losses; not always happy with my play, but I learned a lot. Getting the games analyzed by professionals (including SmartGo user Xie He 9 dan) is a valuable benefit of the Go Congress: no matter your strength, they will deconstruct your games and make your mistakes painfully obvious.

The Go Congress was also a great opportunity to meet many SmartGo users, including Ben Hong (@bengozen) and Nate Eagle (@neagle) who I had only known on Twitter before. I got lots of good feedback on how you were using the apps and what issues you run into.

I hope to see many of you at the Cotsen Open (October 25-26) in Los Angeles!

Kifu 3.4: More Games, App Icon

SmartGo Kifu 3.4 includes the newest GoGoD collection of 81,000 games. As always, this is a free update for existing customers – if you like the app, please tell your friends about it, or leave a rating or review. (Note that Apple by default only shows the ratings and reviews for the newest version, so it helps to submit it again when the app gets updated.)

This update also includes some refinements to the app icon by Scott Jensen, losing the handle of the magnifying glass to make it more abstract and reveal more of the famous Go position. Thanks to @dahanbn for inspiring this change.

 Smartgo kifu icon jensen

Smartgo kifu icon large

Paris Go Tournament

I’m glad I was able to play in the 2014 Paris Go tournament. I expected a large tournament like last time I played there in 1985, but snafus with the tournament site and late announcement meant that only 66 players showed up. Unfortunately, this caused a wide range of strengths in the top band, and all games were played without handicap, so hard to judge how my jet-lagged 3-dan AGA rating compared to the European rankings.

I ended up winning two games and losing four; see the full results of the tournament. As promised in my recent tweets, here are the games, with comments based on going through the games with my opponents plus some remarks kindly offered by Chizu Kobayashi 5p. Most of the comments were written using SmartGo Kifu on the plane back, with some cleanup using SmartGo on the Mac when I got back.

I feel like I learned a lot, and with 90 minutes per player, this was a good warmup for the Go Congress in New York. The main feedback from Chizu Kobayashi 5p (after round 4) was that I had gotten into a habit of playing atari first when I should simply be extending; that really helped me in the last two rounds. But clearly, there’s much more to work on.

SmartGo Pro for iPhone

SmartGo Pro is back as the iPhone-only version of SmartGo Kifu. I took it off the App Store 18 months ago, trimming down to three easily distinguished universal apps. So why bring it back now?

  • It gives new iPhone users a chance to get the capabilities of SmartGo Kifu at a lower price. $12 for SmartGo Pro is still a premium price point, but it’s not quite the $20 sticker shock of SmartGo Kifu.
  • It gives current SmartGo Pro users a huge free upgrade, tripling the game collection to 78,000 pro games, and adding amazing features like joseki matching and tree view as well as 18 months worth of incremental improvements.

Both of these should lead to additional satisfied users. My business model is simple: You buy the app, you use it, you love it, then you tell your Go-playing friends about it. Real value for the price of a Go book; no in-app gimmicks.

Current trends in the App Store favor in-app purchases. But trends are fickle, and Go is a niche market. My bet is that people continue to recognize and appreciate quality apps, and are willing to pay a fair price for them.

Smartgo pro icon jensen

SmartGo Pro gets its own updated icon to match the new SmartGo Kifu icon.

New App Icon for SmartGo Kifu

The next update of SmartGo Kifu will feature a new icon designed by Scott Jensen, building on the previous one by Darran Morris of app-bits.com:

Smartgo kifu icon morris
Smartgo kifu icon jensen

The new icon is slightly more flat to fit in better with iOS 7, brings the color scheme in line with the colors currently used in the app, and adds the magnifying glass to allude to both searching in the game collection as well as magnification during move entry. Seasoned Go players will recognize the position and move from Shusaku’s famous ear-reddening game.

And by the way: Scott has designed four more icons that will be unveiled at the appropriate time. I better get working on those apps…

SmartGo in 2013

“It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” – Douglas Hofstadter

Another year without a Mac version of SmartGo. Progress, but not there yet. While that’s disappointing, both to you and to me, looking back at 2013 makes me feel much more confident about 2014.

SmartGo Kifu: Step by step, this app is approaching what I envision it to be. It got a fresh look with new icons, more logical layout, and less clutter. Then it went through another big change for iOS 7.

New features this year included Airdrop and Bluetooth keyboard support, and some large additions:

  • Tree view: The tree view reveals the structure of annotated games and makes navigation easy.
  • Matching games: When I introduced joseki matching last year I had to punt two features: dynamically switching to the corner with the most recent move, and showing the list of games that match a given position. Those are now done. Still many ways to make joseki matching even more useful; stay tuned.
  • GoGoD game collection: Switching to the GoGoD game collection took it from 40,000 games at the start of the year to over 76,000. The onomasticon (names dictionary) by John Fairbairn is also included, with a mini-biography of many professional players.

SmartGo Books: The 35 books added this year (for a total of 86) include out-of-print books as well as SmartGo Books exclusives, and several series are now complete: Elementary Go Series, Workshop Lectures, So You Want to Play Go, and Graded Go Problems. SmartGo Books now includes four books in German, one Japanese, one Spanish – more translations coming in 2014. See gobooks.com/books.html for a complete list.

SmartGo Player: It got an updated design, the tree view, and the ability to email the game record. More radical changes planned for next year.

Mac and Windows: The Mac version made progress, but is not ready for a beta yet. The Windows version was suspended for a while until I could upgrade the game collection; a beta version is now available.

Website: This year brought a completely new design for gobooks.com and smartgo.com, created by Scott Jensen, as well as more and better translations of the website. (Who else maintains their website in nine languages?)

Code: The health of the code determines how fast I can implement new features, how stable I can make the app, and how swiftly I can react to a curveball like iOS 7. This year included a complete rewrite of the gobook file format code, converting the whole code base to 64-bit and ARC (Automatic Reference Counting), integrating Crashlytics into SmartGo Kifu and Books, and significant performance improvements.

While I don’t know exactly what 2014 will bring, I’m confident that looking back there will be similarly good things to write about. Thanks for being a SmartGo user and recommending the apps to your friends. I wish you all the best for 2014!

SmartGo 3 with GoGoD Game Collection

SmartGo for Windows is back. It’s in beta, but you can download and play with it, even buy it if you like: smartgo.com/windows.html

The big change is the inclusion of all 76,891 games of the GoGoD collection by John Fairbairn and T Mark Hall, the same collection used in SmartGo Kifu.

This is of course a free upgrade for current users. After several years without any changes, I’m calling this SmartGo 3 in anticipation of some more improvements down the road. However, the iOS versions and the perennially-in-progress SmartGo for the Mac are still the top priorities for now.

The current price is $39, down from $49. It will remain that way at least through the beta testing; I have not yet decided whether to restore the previous price once version 3.0 is ready.

Enjoy! And remember that it’s a beta release; please let me know if you run into any issues.